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Second Life For Developers

Posted by SIM on April 18, 2007

Learn About Second Life For Developers And Business At The Life 2.0 Summit Late This Month
By Mitch Wagner,
Apr 18, 2007

If you’re a developer or businessperson interested in learning more about the opportunities in Second Life, my colleagues at Dr. Dobb’s Journal have the conference for you: the Life 2.0 Summit, running April 28 to May 4, both in Second Life and simulcast to the Web.

It’s looking like a great conference. Check out the complete calendar. for event times and details, read on for the complete overview.

Things start off Saturday and Sunday with eight hours of tutorials for advanced developers using the Second Life programming language, Linden Scripting Language.

Saturday night you can get a tour of Second Life’s most impressive locations, and Sunday at the same time, you can get a tour of SL’s most impressive and beautiful objects, demonstrated by their creators.

Monday: Two-hour panel on Second Life as a platform, looking at technology trends, plans to open-source the platform, and other likely changes.

Later, there’ll be a keynote by Mitch Kapor, a director at Linden Lab, and investor and advisor to tech companies. Kapor was founder and CEO of Lotus Development, and designed Lotus 1-2-3, the most popular spreadsheet of its day until it was eclipsed by Microsoft Excel. He co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Tuesday: Two-hour panel on the three-D user interface, followed by a keynote by Linden Lab founder and CEO Philip Rosedale.

Wednesday: No daytime programs because Wednesdays are when Linden Lab usually schedules its “rolling restart,” shutting down Second Life a couple of hours for maintenance. In the evening: A costume party with live DJs and entertainment.

Thursday: Panel on business in Second Life, moderated by Yrs Trly, in the form of his avatar Ziggy Figaro.

Friday: Games in Second Life. as tools for market testing and branding.

Evening events: According to the schedule: “A full schedule of evening programs, including informative guided tours, wallet-depleting shopping sprees, and (mostly) safe and (maybe 80%) wholesome late-night entertainment, will be offered on Mon-Tue and Thur-Fri, beginning at 7 PM SLT (PT).”

The conference will also include a career center, and a show floor.

Register here

Because of Second Life capacity issues, attendance in SL will be limited, but people can also attend on the Web site, and be able to chat with people attending in-world. Tickets to in-world attendance are being distributed by random drawings. Register right away — the earlier you register, the more drawings you can participate in.



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Virtual Obama To Be Simulcast In SecondLife

Posted by SIM on March 30, 2007

Obama Event To Be Simulcast in SL
by Redaktisto Noble
March 24, 2007

The theme of the event is “Hope. Action. Change.”

SoHo – The official campaign of U.S. Senator Barack Obama has authorized a simulcast of a nationwide event in Second Life next week. Forefront Media, a “virtual event and promotions” company which operates in SL, will host the event next Saturday, March 31 at 1:00 PM on their island SoHo.

In the real world, presidential candidate Obama will interact with a small group in an Iowa living room. The event will be webcast for “community gatherings” of Obama supporters around the country. The SL version of the event will not feature a video feed. Instead, the environment will simulate the living room in which Obama will speak, and an authorized Obama avatar will follow the movements of the real-world Obama as an audio stream is piped into the sim.

Of course, Sen. Obama himself will not be controlling the avatar, and will not be available to answer questions from the SL audience.

Surprisingly, the inworld group of Obama supporters is not involved in planning the event. One of Forefront Media’s employees had real-world contacts with the Obama campaign and the company approached the campaign with the idea.

Forefront owner MB Darrow says he hopes the event will demonstrate the potential of Second Life as a campaign medium and spur other campaigns to get invovled.


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Federal Govt Soon To Inhabit Second Life

Posted by SIM on March 19, 2007

DHS Ponders Foray Into Second Life
By Trudy Walsh

The Homeland Security Department is considering setting up an outpost in Second Life, the virtual Sims-like world that has attracted 3 million registered users since 2003.

The landscape of this digital universe, founded by Linden Research Inc. of San Francisco, is rapidly changing. When it was first launched, Second Life was a motley shire where trolls, hobbits and elves—and other less savory grid dwellers—frolicked. Now it is becoming a legitimate corporate meeting place for corporations, universities and, increasingly, government agencies. Federal agencies that have set up islands on Second Life include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Congress [, Quickfind 745].

DHS is just at the point of having informal discussions with one company about setting up a virtual island for its Safecom program, said Tony Frater, DHS’ deputy director of the Office for Interoperability and Compatibility. “But we haven’t taken the plunge,” he said.

Safecom is an integration and engineering project whose goal is to connect wireless first-response systems across federal, state and local agencies. “At Safecom, we’re focused on research, testing and evaluation, and standards to support communications equipment for the first-responder and the public safety community,” Frater said.

As such, Safecom involves a lot of collaboration with commercial engineers, experts in academia and others, he said. Some of these experts live and work in places such as Prague and Singapore. To bring all these people together in one place for conferences would be a logistical nightmare and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, Frater said.

But if DHS were to enable these far-flung researchers and experts to log on to Second Life at and convene by means of avatars and instant messaging, it would be almost like holding a real-world conference. Best of all, Second Life is free except for some nominal, optional fees.

Not only does Second Life cost practically zilch, but nobody gets hurt. Avatar firemen drive virtual trucks that sound virtual sirens. Virtual chemical spills are hoovered up quickly with a virtual hose. Virtual tornadoes devastate virtual counties that can be restored in seconds with a quick “undo.”

Most public-safety agencies don’t have the resources to conduct “tabletop exercises,” which typically are simulations of first-responder events such as a pandemic or a biochemical attack, Frater said. One of these exercises usually requires public-safety workers to spend an entire weekend working at the event. And a tabletop exercise can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In Second Life, however, “we could build training exercises around chemical spills, hurricanes or tornadoes,” Frater said. “It’s fairly realistic. We could mock up things that happen in real life.” Public safety agencies could upload their standard operating procedures and get 30 or so avatars to conduct a simulation exercise.

One of the most attractive features of Second Life is its social networking environment, which lets people share information with great immediacy, Frater said. “First responders—more than a lot of other professions—look to their colleagues for experiences and successes.”

Frater described the Safecom program as “practitioner-driven. We get ideas from the first-responder community to find out what’s working well and what’s not working well.”

But some have raised eyebrows at Second Life’s seedy side, teeming with casinos and unclothed beaches. The site also has its share of vandals, such as the “griefers” who recently defaced the Second Life site of presidential candidate John Edwards.

Is DHS comfortable being a part of this world?

“Just like the Internet, Second Life has both appropriate and inappropriate sections,” Frater said. “DHS will take appropriate steps to protect its information. We also talked about setting up meeting spaces that can be conducted in private,” which require invitations. “I think a lot of seminars would be in a closed setting,” he said.

Although only a handful of government agencies have staked out claims in Second Life, Frater thinks a government users group for the virtual world would be a big help in sharing best practices.

“So many of the investments in Second Life are reusable,” he said. “I think that’s an e-gov principle we should all be putting to use.”


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Virtual Utopia Takes An Evil Turn To Terrorism

Posted by SIM on March 5, 2007

Monday, 03/05/07

Players in the online game Second Life can watch a Nissan Sentra commercial or even receive a virtual version of a Sentra to use while they play the game. Some longtime players object to corporations paying to appear in the game.

Like any pioneer, Marshal Cahill arrived in a new world eager to sample its diversions. Over time, though, he saw an elite few grabbing more than their share.

They bought all the plum real estate. They awarded building contracts to friends. They stifled free speech.

Cahill saw a bleak future but felt powerless to stop them. So he detonated an atomic bomb outside an American Apparel outlet. Then another outside a Reebok store.

As political officer for the Second Life Liberation Army, Cahill is passionately committed to righting what he considers the wrongs of a world that exists only on the computer servers of Linden Lab in San Francisco.

Linden is the company behind Second Life, a virtual world in which Internet users act out parallel fantasy lives. They date. They build houses. They work. Some players support themselves in real life by selling goods or services in the game.

Some see the space as a utopia free of real-world constraints, where they can build their vision of a perfect realm from scratch. It’s a place where denizens can reinvent themselves as a supermodel or a rodent, own an island, or fly . . . with no plane necessary.

In the past year, the number of people who had visited Second Life skyrocketed from 100,000 to 2 million. But the Web site is facing the problem that many would-be utopias have faced before it. When building the ideal world, it’s impossible to change while remaining perfect in everyone’s eyes.

Cahill and his compatriots say they don’t necessarily mind the new residents, but they want more influence in deciding the future of the virtual world. Most important, they want Linden Lab to allow voting on issues affecting their in-world experience.

“The population of the world should have a say in the running of the world,” Cahill said during an in-world interview. Cahill is this participant’s online name, incidentally. He declined to reveal his real-world name for fear of banishment from Second Life.

The army has staged a number of protests in Second Life to publicize its position. Three gun-toting members shot customers outside American Apparel and Reebok stores last year; bullet wounds in Second Life are not fatal but merely disrupt a user’s experience.

Then they stepped up the campaign, exploding nukes, which manifested themselves in swirling fireballs that thrust users at the scene into motionless limbo.

Cahill said the group targeted in-world corporate locations to draw real-world attention to its cause.

But the malcontents and pranksters — and there are many, even outside Cahill’s organization — make for a dangerous environment. Land sharks try to drive users off certain properties, and mafias have been known to harass users. Giant male genitals have crashed events, bouncing around and distracting participants. A recent posting in the Second Life Herald called the space “the freaking wild wild west.”

For some users, these events illuminate how much Second Life has changed. Some early users in particular point to corporations as the culprits. They began to build their presence in Second Life as the population grew.

“The utopian age has passed,” said Peter Ludlow, professor of linguistics and philosophy at the University of Michigan and editor of Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates and Pirate Utopias. Ludlow, whose Second Life persona, or avatar, is named Urizenus Sklar, compares Second Life’s current status to the ending of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, in which the Shire, previously untouched by the outside world, is destroyed.

Ludlow is the author of a venomous Internet post complaining that companies lack creativity in a world that many participants entered for the sole purpose of living creatively. Chain stores such as American Apparel are being dropped into “this fantasy world with unicorns and flying elephants,” he said. “It’s an eyesore.”

Meanwhile, Linden Lab is caught in a bind. To survive, it needs the revenue that comes with more users and corporations buying “land” on the “grid,” as Second Life’s online space is called. But it wants the creativity of its original users to flourish.

Linden Lab sees the importance of companies using Second Life to interact with customers, Director of Marketing Catherine Smith said in a statement. “This will require balancing the concerns of early adopters and other niche demographics.”

That’s not how Manhattanite Catherine Fitzpatrick, a Russian translator, sees it. Fitzpatrick, who in the game is a man named Prokofy Neva, worries that corporations will force small businesses in Second Life to close.

Fitzpatrick, 50, joined Second Life to explore her creative side and meet like-minded people and eventually got involved in selling real estate. She built a nice home for herself with an ocean view, which she said was ruined when someone moved in next door and built a giant refrigerator that blocked her light.

The disruptions avatars are experiencing are like those faced by residents of the Soviet Union as it industrialized quickly, Fitzpatrick said.

“One day, the elves were banging on their drums and making elf tunics,” she said. “And the next thing you know, Nissan comes in and starts giving away free cars.”

It’s not just the corporations that are drawing the ire of original players. Some long-term residents say the functioning of Second Life has been eroded by the increase in users. Those who choose not to pay the $9.95 fee for upgraded membership come in for special criticism, accused of clogging the system without contributing anything.

But letting in new users might be key to Second Life’s survival. Every GM, American Apparel and IBM that sets up shop in Second Life contributes much-needed real dollars to a company that Chief Financial Officer John Zdanowski said only recently became profitable.

“It’s impossible for Second Life to continue to exist without rapidly growing the user base and involving real-world companies in their economy,” said Sibley Verbeck, chief executive of Washington-based Electric Sheep Co., which helps corporations set up shop in Second Life. Verbeck, whose avatar is named Sibley Hathor, said corporate capital enhanced the user experience by providing Linden Lab with the means to improve the virtual world.

To be sure, many Second Life players are happy to adapt to the changes and see where they take the virtual world. Longtime Second Life user Ilya Vedrashko, for instance, is skeptical when he hears friends talk about the good old days. He thinks the changes are just part of a natural progression as Second Life grows out of being a small, close-knit community and into a metropolis.


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John Edwards’ Second Life HQ Vandalized

Posted by SIM on March 2, 2007

Mar. 2 – KGO – According to a blog post on the John Edwards ’08 Web site, “a group of Republican Second Life users, some sporting ‘Bush ’08’ tags,” vandalized the presidential candidate’s Second Life online headquarters on February 26.

The vandalism included “Marxist/Lenninist posters and slogans, a feces spewing obscenity, and a photoshopped picture of John in blackface.”

Second Life is a 3D online virtual world where content is created by the residents that inhabit it.

Catherine Smith, director of marketing for Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life, issued the following comment to ABC7:

“The world of Second Life is host to wide variety of groups, with equally wide ranging opinions and perspectives. At Linden Lab we do the utmost to ensure the protection of creative expression, within certain bounds. Ultimately, instances in which residents engage in vandalism will have to be taken on a case by case basis according to our terms of service.

It should be noted that the sheer volume of in-world activity prevents Linden Lab from being able to police all in-world activities, nor was it ever our intention to do so. Rather, we are actively working with the community to foster a self-governing community, where residents are empowered to act on things they feel strongly about, and adjudicate such disputes.”

The author of the blog post says an abuse report has been filed with Linden Lab.


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